Steelers vs Packers Super Bowl Prediction
I’ve picked winning sides based on stats and trends. I’ve picked winning sides based on my personal feel about a game that had little or nothing to do with statistics. But in the past several
years I’ve spent a considerable amount of time gauging how the sports media and fans feel about upcoming NFL matchups and have often found myself going against public sentiment. And Yes I’ve picked winning sides based on that too.
But I’ve had most success during the times where I’ve been able combine hard core statistics to build a case against that strong one sided public position. Which brings us to this year’s Super Bowl between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers.
One of the big stories right now is how large of a backing the Green Bay Packers are getting for this matchup. It doesn’t seem to matter if we’re looking in the USA Today newspaper, ESPN, Or the NFL channel, we continually see about 80% picking the Packers.
It’s simply astonishing to me that Pittsburgh doesn’t have more backers. The Steelers are going for a third Super Bowl win in 6 years. The Packers haven’t been to a Super bowl since 1997 season. Pittsburgh also played in the superior conference that averaged 0.2 yards per play higher in each AFC/NFC matchup this season.
The one thing I’ve noticed about the public is that they have a short term memory. In this case, they can’t get Roethlisberger’s sloppy game against the Jets out of their head. Meanwhile, Aaron Rogers tearing up a fraud of an Atlanta team is still very much etched in their minds. The Falcons had a -0.7 Yards per play differential on the season. Had Atlanta made the Super bowl, they would have been the worst Super bowl participant of all time according to that key stat.
The Steelers meanwhile faced a Jets defense that was playing their best ball of the season. They weren’t allowing anyone to throw the football on them. Would Aaron Rogers have played any better against the Jets than Roethlisberger? The answer is no and the evidence is quite convincing. The Packers played the Jets around mid season.
Rodgers vs the Jets (week 8)
Completion pct = 44.1% (15 for 34)
Yards per att = 5.0
Points scored = 9 Points
Roethlisberger vs Jets (championship game)
Completion pct = 52.5%
Yards per att = 7.0
Points scored = 17 offensive points
There are quite a few myths heading into this game. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Myth #1 = The Steelers pass defense is the weak link
It’s possible that the Packers have better cover corners. But the goal of any secondary is to play good pass defense. With that being said, it is the Steelers defense that leads the league in the fewest yards per pass allowed. The Steelers also allowed the fewest pass plays over 20 yards.
Myth #2 = The Packers have a dominant defensive line.
The Packers allowed 4.5 yards per rush this season. Only a small handful of teams allowed more yards per carry than the Green Bay defense. Even worse, the Packers would allow 4.5 yards per rush against a schedule o
f offenses that would gain 4.2 on average this season. A dominant defensive line doesn’t allow such a high yards per carry. Furthermore, the Packers defensive linemen are big and powerful. The Steelers offensive line struggle against the quicker, more athletic linemen.
Myth #3 The Packers passing offense is much more explosive than Pittsburgh’s.
The Steelers ranked 2nd in the amount of throws over 20 yards this season (62). The Packers had 57 throws go for more than 20 yards. The Steelers have a deep set of receivers just as the Packers do. Roethlisberger can throw the football. Many in the media still haven’t figured that out.
Myth #4 The Packers don’t need a running game to beat the Steelers
The Packers were 1-4 in games where they rushed for less than 80 yards. Green Bay averaged just 13.4 points per game in those contests. The Steelers meanwhile were 3-1 in games where their offense rushed for less than 80 yards. They were 3-0 in those games when Roethlisberger was the quarterback. It appears that the Steelers don’t need a running game to win.
After taking a look at the above myths, one can now understand why there are so many Packers backers for this game. Hey, if I thought the Packers had the far superior pass defense, a truly dominant defensive line, a more explosive passing offense, and didn’t need a running game to win, I might pick the Packers as well. But I know better after checking a few facts that are noted above.
Two Keys to the Game
Key#1 = Rogers Patience.
Rogers wants to go downfield, but the Steelers don’t’ allow that. Only tom Brady has shown the type of patience that it takes over 4 quarters to effectively move the football against Pittsburgh. Without a running attack, Rogers will be faced several 3rd down and long situations and that is when his patience will be tested.
Key #2 The Packers offensive line
We have heard a lot of about the Steelers offensive lines and their short comings this week. But 34 years old Packers LT Chad Clifton allowed 8 sacks this year and is playing hurt. He will have to deal with James Harrison who just might be playing his best football. There won’t be much help for Clifton because Lamar Woodley will be licking his chops while getting to face a rookie Right tackle. Woodley will be especially motivated due to his contract status. A big game on the biggest stage would be like hitting the lottery. Furthermore, if the Packers are going to spread the field with 4 wide receivers, than there won’t be a lot extra help in protection for Rogers.
The Packers can certainly win this game. No one will be surprised if they do. But the Steelers have a two dimensional offense with Rashard Mendenhall playing his best football of his career. The Steelers defense led the league in the fewest yards per pass and fewest yards per rush allowed. The Packers offense is one dimensional and all the pressure is on their young quarterback who hasn’t won anything. Common sense and a little bit of fact checking tells me that the Steelers should win. Maybe all of these Packer backers know something about this matchup that I don’t.
But I doubt it….
Look for the Packers to turn the football over.
Pittsburgh 24 Packers 20